Anxiety and stress levels are high during this time of the coronavirus.

Now, a local woman is not only helping those who need mental health services — but also has some very helpful words of encouragement for all of us.

“What we’re living in right now is an unprecedented time for us in the United States,” said Melanie Funchess.

"Coronavirus," "COVID-19," "quarantine" – words that are all around us – causing stress.

“There’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of angst for all of us in this time,” said Funchess.

Funchess is the director of community engagement for the Mental Health Association of Rochester/Monroe County. She says if you are feeling anxious, you aren’t alone.

"So when we’re thinking about this, don’t just think about the virus itself, think about all of the things to our mental and emotional health that are all going to this," Funchess said.

She says the stress of it all really hits home as COVID-19 forces drastic changes in the way we manage our lives and the cancellation of significant events.

"Rituals are incredibly important." 

"Think about all the proms, senior trips, spring breaks, graduations all these things. Young people work for four years, either four years of high school, four years of college, to get to that one time when they get to walk across that stage, and their moms get to cry and their families get to yell and they’re not gonna get that," said Funchess. "So we’re having even less control over the things that we don’t have control over.  And that can have a very traumatic effect for people."

That effect, Funchess says, is the feeling of being out of control, for some leading to panicky, hoarding like behavior.

"Now we do not need 100 rolls of toilet paper for two weeks, but when you’re frightened, the part of your brain that does reasoning is not on," Funchess said.

The Mental Health Association is transitioning to help its clients virtually – but also offers some advice for all of us. That includes taking a breather from the Coronavirus information overload and taking some time for yourself.

"We want to, in this time, to manage our anxieties about this I want us to manage our information intake," said Funchess. "It’s okay to pull away and go and look at the sun, look at the grass, read a book, you know, do something else."


"We really need to be generous and have grace with one another in this time."

"If you’re feeling anxious, know first, that you are not alone. We’re all feeling different levels of anxiety because we all experience these things differently. Second, we are going to get through this. This is not permanent, we don’t know how long it is, but it’s not permanent. We will get through this. Three if you are feeling anxious and you need to talk to somebody there are resources," Funchess said.

She says you can call the Mental Health Association of Rochester/Monroe County at (585) 325-3145 for help and guidance.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

Contact the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

The National Disaster Distress Helpline is 1-800-985-5990.

And the Monroe County Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 hotline is (585) 753-5555 or you can email

"If we could just take a step back, take a deep breath and really assess – what do we really need to have? How can we help others?" said Funchess.

Taking the advice of one woman could be just what you need.

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